Lunar Deities Everywhere!

I came home in awe of the presenter’s PowerPoint skills.  It was a visually stunning two hour talk and was googling around for an image of a fun trishekel minted by the Carthaginians in Spain, the one with the diademed head and a ship prow.  I thought I’d write about that.   No reason other than it captivated my imagination.  But in my digging, I ended up here.  I was about to move on as I’m trying to avoid images not in museum collections on this blog as much as possible, but I was struck by the similarity of the reverse of HN Capua 494:



To a coin of about 56 BC minted by Sulla’s son (same series as the first coin in the last coin post):

So I started searching for Selene or Luna on Roman Republican coins to find the Faustus coin and any relevant predecessors.  The Faustus coin was entered as Diana so didn’t appear, but it did return the lead coin above–a spectacular image of Luna appearing Sulla in a Dream, a story known from Plutarch.  The BOOK as approved by my publisher and series editor ends in 49 BCE.  This epiphany coin playing on the Endymion/Selene iconography dates to 44 BC.  That said, it directly contextualizes the Diana in a biga coin by demonstrating a contemporary awareness of the Plutarch narrative.  I think I better include it.  The Capua coin is also likely to make an appearance as it strengthens Crawford’s suggestion that the divinity on the coin should be linked this passage:

“It was while Sulla was ascending Mount Tifata that he had encountered Gaius Norbanus. After his victory over him he paid a vow of gratitude to Diana, to whom that region is sacred, and consecrated to the goddess the waters renowned for their salubrity and water to heal, as well as all the lands in the vicinity. The record of this pleasing act of piety is witnessed to this day by an inscription on the door of the temple, and a bronze tablet within the edifice.”

Mount Tifata directly overlooks Capua.  The temple of Diana Tifatina still stands, at least in part, as the Basilica di Sant’Angelo in Formis.  I find no need to choose between the Plutarch or the Velleius narrative.  Diana, Luna, Selene, Artemis, we are still firmly in the realm of moon goddesses.  There is no meaningful iconographic distinction in the coins.





6, 7, and 8 out of 410 days: Back At It

Saturday morning was spent with a backache prone on the floor with a copy of a text and translation of a fragmentary author that I’m reviewing.  A portion of the work has been carried out by a very capable scholar who I’ve  only met once in the spring of 1998.  I was looking for private tuition in Ancient Greek prior to grad school.  I never did well in class based language instruction because of the dyslexia.   I made an appointment with the scholar being clear about what I needed and my goals.  He invited me to meet with him in his university office.  He then proceeded to tell me that it was impossible to do what I wanted to do and I’d never learn enough Greek in such a short time to succeed in grad school.  My mission was ignorant, arrogant, and pure folly.  He declined to be my tutor.  I left not sure why he’d agreed to meet with me.   Maybe he felt a moral obligation to tell me to cease and desist.  I try to remember that conversation every time I want to rain on the parade of some bright-eyed student with outlandish dreams and no sense of what might be involved in fulfilling them. His work is very good: there is no question of a hostile review.  I didn’t even know he was part of the project when I agreed to review the volume as his is not first author (perhaps a personal oversight).  

And all is well that ends well, I found a lovely lady at a local seminary to work with me.  And well, I’m not a linguist, but my Greek ain’t SO shabby.

We then went bookshelf hunting and celebrated a family birthday by making vast quantities of homemade fettuccine and harvested garbage bags full of swiss chard and I even fit in a run yesterday.  I didn’t know how weekend would work on the blog but this seems a not half bad approach.  I do feel guilty for taking 36 hours off of research and writing and I’m anxious that my plan is to go to another lecture this afternoon, but not all work can take place here.  I’m also anxious that my BOOK won’t be as good as the other books in the same series because all the other authors are so much more dreadfully clever than I am.  I can get over this.  Perfection is the enemy of done.  And my work is worthy of being read regardless of whether it is the best or the brightest.

Aplustre and Bow Cases

I sat in on a seminar on Cistophoric Coinage today.  I had learned most of what was presented along the way or had read about it in books, but there is something so nice in being talk through a topic, show the pictures, and handling the coins.  I creates grooves in ones mind and one sees the image anew.  Some of what I saw got me thinking about the coin above.  Not that it looks anything like a Cistophoric coinage.  Look at the reverse (“tails” side).  (I’ve turned it around.)Image

On the bottom left corner of this is image is something called an aplustre, the stern decoration of an ancient ship:

The coin is made by Sulla’s son, Faustus, who at the time of its manufacture was quite close to Pompey and these images are widely accepted as celebrating Pompey’s various accomplishments with the aplustre representing his clearing the seas of pirates.  That’s not controversial.  It’s just that before this aplustre aren’t known on the republican series.  There are plenty of aplustre on various greek coinages.  For example its often on the observe (“heads” side) the coins of Sinope (e.g. SNGuk_0901_1463)

Or even better this beauty:


But, sitting in the lecture today I was struck by how prominent (at least to my eye) the decoration on the bow case of the typical cistophori seemed to resemble an aplustre.

Here’s one that looks more like a bow case:

But many look more like this:

or like this:

Stylized bow case or an actual aplustre?  I don’t know.  Is there any reason for naval symbolism on late Attalid coinage?  I do think that many ancient viewers would see an apulstre before they saw a bow case. I’m not the first to think this.  The BMC catalogue recorded the image as an aplustre, but the description has fallen out of favor along the way.  Want a look at the whole group? This is a good starting place.  So does it relate to Faustus’ coin probably not through an sort of intentional symbolicalism, but cistophori might have been just about the most common aplustre type of coin imagery the creators and uses of the coins may have handled.


Both of the bibliographical difficulties from earlier have been cleared up!  Thank goodness for academic friends.

5 out of 410 days: Digital Glass Ceiling

Yesterday it was obscure print publications with poor library deposition, today it is completely find-able entries in research databases behind the pay wall.  One well known publisher in our field has taken to publishing digitally new editions of old reference works that used to be printed in book form.  This is a huge advantage for searching and cross-referencing and updating.  It’s a huge disadvantage if your institution doesn’t subscribe and in good conscience I can’t ask my library to pay $9,540.00 for the database.  That’s more than the operating budget of my department his past year.  ILL can easily secure me a copy of just about any page in any book in any library in the country, but that pay wall creates a huge research gap between poorly funded state institutions and large privates.  It puts the individual researcher in the position of having to spend hours travelling and getting permission slips to access the resources at another institution OR begging for a little favor from a scholar with a better job to make a copy and send it along OR pay for a day pass from the publisher out of one’s own pocket. The edits continue.

Can one plagiarize oneself?

Locri - Roma Pistis SNG ANS_531


Being rather demoralized by the stalling of the edits and then further derailed by a networking lunch (a most pleasurable experience with much inspiration about future study abroad, err… ‘international education’ as one says today), I couldn’t really think about coins, but didn’t want to break my promise to put a coin from the book here every day.  So I looked in my coin file and this one popped to the surface.  It looked familiar so I did a key word search and sure enough just over a year ago I talked about it at a nice invited lecture at Leeds University.  I said: “Near, or at the end of, the war with Pyrrhus, the Locrians, a community in the very toe of Italy, created a coin which has the very earliest depiction of the personification of Roma on it.  She bears a scepter, rest her right arm on a shield, and sits upon a curule chair.  She is being crowned by the personification of Pistis, the Greek equivalent of fides.   Both figures are labeled with legends so the audience cannot mistake the unusual scene.  Even this type of labeling on coins is virtually unknown at this date.  Legends usually named whose coin it was ‘the coin of King Philip’ or the ‘the coin of the Athenians’.  Our literary sources on the Pyrrhic War are spotty but according to the epitomes of Cassius Dio, the Locrians changed sides a few times and suffered the consequences of those choices—a pattern of events that repeated itself in Hannibalic War.  I take this ‘celebration’ of Roman good faith as an expression of a rather desperate hope that they might benefit from this particular Roman virtue.” I then connected it with a few literary texts.  Anyway.  It’s something.  Back to the damn edits.

Deadlines, Schmedlines


So this is why I’m none too confident about getting the edits done for the chapter by the end of the week. I’ve got three friends working on the problem of sourcing a copy of the chapter and there is always the fall back option of as one friend suggests  of asking the  “editor to ask this anonymous peer reviewer for a copy of the chapter.”  Or I can just bite the bullet and email the author directly and beg a copy, an option I’d be more comfortable with if I could find an friend in common.